I've had coffeecake before, and I liked it, but it was always too rich somehow. Or too sweet. Maybe both. I was always a little underwhelmed, although that never stopped me from eating it (just you try and stop me from eating something).
Then, I found this.
I was intrigued for two reasons: the rhubarb (I'd never had nor baked with it before) and the crumbs. THE CRUMBS. Anything that is 1/2 crumby goodness must be made. And devoured.
Luckily, rhubarb is in season, and the overpriced market down the street had some. This recipe called for 8 oz (1/2 lb) and for some odd reason every single piece of rhubarb I picked up at the store weighed exactly 6 oz. I started to wonder if they cut them all to size. It was disturbing. Undaunted, I weighed about 8 or 9 pieces until I spotted Gigantor at the bottom and lo! He weighed a bit over 8 oz.
Sadly, that lonely rhubarb stalk sat in my fridge for several days. After the debacle with the dulce de leche brownies (I scrubbed that pan for AGES, peeling bits of caramel-glued foil off under the hottest water that would come out of my tap) I just didn't want to tackle a recipe with three parts.
But I'm glad I did. After all the chocolate and cream and butter overload, this was perfect. THIS is coffecake. Light and crumby, buttery but not overwhelming, with fruit bits that allowed me to pretend it was healthy. It was light (okay, compared to my usual fare) and perfect for a sunny summer day. Except this is Seattle, and so I ate it in the rain.
‘Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07
stolen, as usual, from smitten kitchen
Not rhubarb season? Don’t fret. I think this cake would be amazing with a blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry or any other tangy fruit filling you can think of. Simply adjust the sugar level accordingly–most of these will need far less than rhubarb does to make them palatable.
Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling
Butter for greasing pan
For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)
For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.
2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.
3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.
4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.
5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.